A Utah ape that has correctly picked the Super Bowl winner for six straight years predicted Thursday that the Seattle Seahawks will be the next NFL champion.
Eli the ape ran into an enclosure Thursday morning and swiftly knocked down a papier-mache helmet bearing the Seahawks logo, signalling his pick, said Erica Hansen of Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City.
“He made his pick without any hesitation,” Hansen said.
That could mean bad news for Broncos fans. The 13-year-old primate hasn’t been wrong since 2006.
Last year, Eli charged out and knocked over a papier-mache goal post decorated with the Ravens logo. Sure enough, the Ravens beat the 49ers 34-31.
Eli’s pick this year drew mixed reactions from his team of zookeepers that include avid Broncos fans.
“They are hoping that this is his first wrong year,” Hansen said.
After he made his prognostication, Eli was joined by his mate, Eve, and daughter, Acara, and allowed to smash, play and eat the papier-mache helmets.
Hansen said interest and excitement about Eli’s Super Bowl pick has increased as his streak grows. This year, people have been asking daily when he’s making his pick.
“He’s better than the Vegas odds-makers,” Hansen said.
PROP BETS: The Chicago Bears were such big favourites over the New England Patriots in the 1986 Super Bowl that bettors were reluctant to put their money on either NFL team.
But many of them couldn’t wait to place a few bucks on the chance Bears head coach Mike Ditka might give William (The Refrigerator) Perry the ball on short yardage and let him try to score a touchdown.
Ditka did just that, and Perry made the move pay off. The defensive lineman scored a touchdown in the third quarter of a 46-10 blowout, and bettors who got up to 40-to-1 odds on the proposition bet scored along with him.
“That was the prop that put everybody on the map,” Jimmy Vaccaro said. “We lost $40,000 on one bet and the guy across the street blew so much he wanted to go upstairs and jump off the roof.”
Linemen still score touchdowns only rarely. But betting on the so-called “props” put up by Las Vegas sports books has become big.
At Vaccaro’s South Point Hotel sports book, gamblers can bet on some 300 different proposition bets, from who will win the opening coin toss to 1,000-to-1 odds on neither the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks scoring a touchdown in the big game Sunday.
Find an offshore book to wager with, and the props become even more exotic. At the Bovada website, bettors can wager on things as diverse as how many times Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will say “Omaha” during the game (over/under 271/2) to how long it will take Renee Fleming to sing the U.S. national anthem (2 minutes 25 seconds is the book’s guess).
“It’s a higher number than we’ve offered in the past,” Bovada odds maker Pat Morrow said. “But after seeing some of her performances, we figured as an opera singer she would have a higher tendency of drawing out a note. We had to watch a lot of YouTube to make that line.”
Prop bets have become a major part of Super Bowl wagering in recent years, making up some 30 per cent to 40 per cent of all betting. They may be even bigger this year as casual gamblers look for something to keep their interest in the game other than the 21/2-point spread currently favouring the Broncos.
Last year, a record $98.9-million (U.S.) was bet legally on the game in Nevada, with untold millions more with illegal bookies and sports books that operate outside the U.S.
At the LVH sports book, bettors can bet on which coach will use the challenge flag first (11-to-10 odds on both Seattle’s Pete Carroll and Denver’s John Fox) to most yards receiving between Doug Baldwin of the Seahawks and Wes Welker of the Broncos (minus-15.5 yards for Welker).
The bets that reach across two sports are always popular, with the number of points scored Sunday by Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant (plus 71/2) up against Manning’s total pass attempts. Another offers birdies made by golfer Tiger Woods in the fourth round of the Dubai Desert Classic (plus 0.5) against the number of receptions for Denver’s Demaryius Thomas.
Vaccaro said betting across sports became popular after some books posted a line in 1996, on the amount of points Michael Jordan would score against the Phoenix Suns, against the points scored by the Dallas Cowboys later that day against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jordan dropped 31 on the Suns, while the Cowboys won 27-17, and a lot of bettors cashed tickets.
“We actually wrote well over $100,000 on that prop,” Vaccaro said. “All I know is I lost $25,000 on one bet.”
ACCURATE DUCKS: Peyton Manning and Richard Sherman can agree to agree.
No war of words between the record-setting Broncos quarterback and the star Seahawks cornerback who will try to slow him down in the Super Bowl.
In his regular column for the MMQB.com website, Sherman ranked Manning as the smartest quarterback in the NFL a few weeks ago.
After gushing about his adjustments for a few sentences, Sherman added: “His arm, however, is another story. His passes will be accurate and on time, but he throws ducks.”
Not exactly a revelation to anybody who has watched Manning toss a football. Asked about the “ducks” on Wednesday, Sherman said, “Well, I still feel the same way I felt.”
“He is a great quarterback. He does a great job,” he added. “At the same time, when he catches the ball he doesn’t necessarily catch the laces all the time. He throws an accurate ball in regards to how he catches it. He just gets it on time and delivers it accurately.”
And so Manning was asked about that comment Thursday and wasn’t the least bit offended.
“I believe it to be true,” he quipped.
“I do throw ‘ducks,“’ he said. “I’ve thrown a lot of yards and touchdown ‘ducks.’ I am actually quite proud of it.”
Told later Thursday of Manning’s response, Sherman said: “I agree. That’s exactly what I said.”
Denver receiver Demaryius Thomas described Manning’s’ passes as “like catching tissue paper.”
“It’s so easy to catch, it really doesn’t matter if it’s a spiral or wobbly,” he said.
SPIRIT OF 12: A Boeing 747-8 jet decked out in a Seahawks paint scheme to honour the team playing in the Super Bowl took its support a step further Thursday.
The plane flew over Eastern Washington after taking off from Seattle’s Boeing Field with a flight plan that spelled out 12. The flight path stretched from the southern border of the state between Washington and Oregon almost to the eastern border of Idaho to completely spell out the two numbers.
The plane – normally used for flight testing – featured a 12 on the tail and the phrase “Spirit of 12s Go Hawks” on one side of the plane. The new paint scheme was unveiled Wednesday.
CRAM SESSION: Having two weeks to prepare for the Super Bowl can sometimes lead to too much study of the opposition.
That’s especially true when getting ready for an offence like Denver and all the different formations and adjustments Manning uses.
It’s been thought that Sunday could be filled with checks and changes from both Denver’s offence and Seattle’s defence. But strong safety Kam Chancellor said he expects the Seahawks to stay with their basic defensive principles.
“I think you can do too much. I think you can kind of look at too much also,” Chancellor said. “Once you find your formula and what you need to know, I think you need to stick with that and go with it. And if it’s something you didn’t see on film, you just have to run and react. Be athletic, be disciplined to the coverage that you are in.”
MUSEUM JERSEYS: The signed jerseys of four players from the Seahawks and Broncos will be on display when the National Museum of African American History and Culture opens. NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith announced Thursday that the players’ union was donating jerseys from two players on each team taking part in the Super Bowl.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and cornerback Richard Sherman, and Denver linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Champ Bailey are the four. The museum, part of the Smithsonian, is currently under construction on the National Mall in Washington.